Health & safety - Operational & site safety
MPA Cement member companies are fully compliant with the chromium (VI) requirements in the REACH Regulation (Annex 17, clause 47) which applies to cement and cement-containing preparations. One of the most important issues for the cement industry and its customers is the introduction of a limited storage period shelf-life for cement.
These regulatory requirements are designed to minimise the risk of chromate related allergic dermatitis that can arise from the unprotected use of cement. This only applies to wet cement and it is safe to touch concrete and other structures containing cement. UK cement manufacturers ensure that their cements have levels of soluble chromium (VI) when water is added that are no more than two parts per million by mass of the dry cement.
To achieve this standard, small amounts of a reducing agent are added where necessary to control the quantity of soluble chromium. As the reducing agent is only active for a limited period, it is necessary to declare a shelf life for cement during which the very low level of chromium (VI) is maintained. The reducing agent has an insignificant effect on cement performance.
Safety is one of the industry's core values and UK cement manufacturers have voluntarily been displaying a health warning on bags and delivery documents for years, stating that cement contains chromium (VI). In preparing to comply with chromium (VI) legislation, the cement industry, led by MPA Cement, was involved in widespread consultations with the Health and Safety Executive and customers. More than £10 million was invested in capital equipment to ensure that the industry complied with the regulations in full. In addition, an MPA Cement Task Force developed a range of fact sheets to assist customers and users of chromium (VI) reduced cements.
The industry stresses that despite these measures, personal protective equipment should always be worn and the correct safety precautions followed.